Raynaud’sdisease also referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome is acommon medical condition that interferes with the supply of blood tosome parts of the body. Normally, the affected body parts includefingers and toes. But, other body parts like lips, nose, and ears canalso be affected. The smaller arteries which are responsible forsupplying blood to the skin narrows thus blocking circulation ofblood to the affected body parts (vasospasm) in response to cold orstress (Monro, 2013). When this happens, the fingers or toes changecolor to white, followed by blue color, and then as the blood flowresumes, they change to red color. Raynaud’s can affect a person’squality of life, but to many it is usually not a disabling disease.
Raynaud’sdisease is categorized as either primary or secondary. PrimaryRaynaud’s is usually mild, develops on its own and it is actuallythe most common type. Secondary Raynaud’s is more severe and it isassociated with other medical conditions such as lupus, rheumatoidarthritis, or use of certain medication like those of treating highblood pressure.
Forsome people, exposure to cold temperatures, such as placing somethingin the freezer can trigger an attack. For others, anxiety oremotional stress can cause an episode of Raynaud’s.
Womenare generally at a higher risk of having primary Raynaud than men.Though any person can develop the disease, primary Raynaud is commonat ages between 15 and 30 while secondary Raynaud’s tends to affectpeople of ages 35 to 40. Raynaud’s is also more prevalent in peoplewho reside in colder environment. Having a family history ofRaynaud’s increases your chances of developing the disease (Frank,Martin & Damaj, 2014).Approximately 1/3 of people suffering from Raynaud’s have asibling, child, or a parent with the disease. Secondary Raynaud’sis linked to smoking, exposure to chemicals like vinyl chloride,medications affecting blood vessels, diseases like lupus andoccupations that can cause persistent trauma , for instancemachineries that vibrate.
Symptomsof Raynaud’s include cold toes or fingers, numbness or stingingpain after stress episode or warming up, and changes of color in theskin in response to stress or cold. These symptoms can last from afew minutes to many hours.
Ageneral practitioner-GP- can diagnose the disease though at times apatient can be referred to a doctor who is specialized in treatingRaynaud’s. During diagnosis, a GP takes a comprehensive medicalhistory of the patient, conduct physical examinations, and performsome tests to exclude other illnesses that may present similarsymptoms. Nail fold capillaroscopy test may be performed to determineif a person has primary or secondary Raynaud’s (Monro, 2013). Thistest entails examination of nail fold under a microscope. Blood testssuch as antinuclear antibodies test may be performed in case thedoctor suspects an underlying autoimmune disease.
Thegoal of treatment is to reduce the number of attacks a person has,lessen the severity of attacks, prevent injury to tissues, and treatany underlying condition. Treatment usually depends on factors suchas severity of the disease and whether the patient has otherpre-existing health problems. Medications work by widening bloodvessels and increasing circulation. These include vasodilators(relaxes blood vessels), alpha blockers, and calcium channelblockers- relaxes and opens tiny blood vessels in the hands and feet(Frank,Martin & Damaj, 2014).
Prognosisof the disease
Theoutlook for people with Raynaud’s largely depends on how severe thedisease is and whether or not a patient has any underlying healthproblem (Monro, 2013). Majority of people with Raynaud’s syndromerespond well to simple remedies, with or without having to takemedications.
Thereare measures that one can put in place to protect him or herself fromRaynaud’s attacks. For instance, to protect from cold extremities:wear protective clothing when you are outdoors such as face masks,gloves, boots, and scarves. A person with severe Raynaud’s mayconsider relocating to a warmer climate (Frank,Martin & Damaj, 2014).Quitting smoking is an option for smokers. If your occupation placesyou at risk, then you may need to change to something different.
Conclusively,Raynaud’s disease just like most diseases can be prevented and canbe successfully treated. It is important to seek medical advice assoon as they suspect they are sick.
Frank,D. W., Martin, R., & Damaj, B. B. (2014). U.S.Patent No. 20,140,200,274.Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Monro,T. K. (2013). Raynaud`sDisease.Theclassics Us.